In times past, employment contracts have been reserved primarily for key executives of an organization, but the workplace has evolved. Today, the technology industry has produced hundreds of thousands of jobs employers and employees find contract worthy. If you are an employee with an employment contract, there are some things you should be clear on.
An employer typically has an attorney that drafts their employment contracts. Because of the inherent conflict of interest, you need to be aware that the employer’s lawyer does not represent you. If you do not understand a clause in your contract, or would like to negotiate an alteration to a clause, you should seek your own counsel.
Your employment contract may have a non-compete agreement (NCA); if you work in the technology, it is increasingly likely that you have a NCA. Unfortunately, many employers’ NCAs are vague, or worse, simply boilerplate pasted from another contract. Poorly crafted NCA leave the employee, and even the employer, wondering what their NCA means. For instance, what is the scope of the NCA? Is the NCA designed to prevent competition, or prevent the taking of trade secrets? What is the timeframe or geographic location that the NCA is effective. Speaking with an attorney before a possible breach is often the cheapest and easiest solution to a NCA issue.
Many employment contracts have arbitration clauses. Knowing upfront if you have an arbitration clause in your contract, or if you can negotiate an arbitration clause out of your contract can be valuable information for an employee. For instance, employees often claim that they were not treated fairly or properly informed of the company’s economic situation or future outlook. The presence of an arbitration clause in your contract can seriously limit any potential recovery for an employee, as arbitration awards are likely to be significantly smaller than jury awards.
If you are facing one of the situations above, or any of the many potential employment contract issues not listed above, and you are in the greater Seattle area, please contact Stockwell Law Firm for a free consultation.